IATA pushes sustainable fuel production to aid aviation’s post-COVID-19 recovery

Governments, fuel producers and the finance community must work together to boost production of affordable sustainable aviation fuel, says IATA.

Covid-19 IATA IEA sustainable aviation fuel

To emphasise the aviation industry’s commitment to its emissions reduction goals, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the International Energy Agency (IEA) to prioritise investment in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to help power aviation’s contribution to the post-COVID-19 recovery, according to a press release.

IATA’s call comes on the eve of the IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit where much of the debate revolves around working towards a low-carbon future.

With more attention to investment in carbon reduction technologies and in SAF, IATA expects that this will create jobs at this critical time and boost the aviation industry’s progress towards the goal of cutting emissions to half the 2005 levels by 2050.

So far, despite over 250,000 flights having adopted a blend of SAF, current SAF production rates are too low for aviation to reach this goal. IATA estimates that current SAF production is 50 million litres annually. To reach a tipping point where the scale of production will see SAF costs drop to levels competitive with jet fuel, production needs to reach 7 billion litres or 2% of 2019 consumption.

“The enormous amounts of money that governments are investing in the economic recovery from COVID-19 are an opportunity to create a legacy of energy transition for the aviation industry. To achieve this, governments, the finance community and the fuel producers—both large and small—must work together with the goal of rapidly increasing production of affordable sustainable aviation fuel,” explained Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

As much as airlines want to use SAF, de Juniac noted that production is well below the scale needed for prices to fall to competitive levels.

“Attaining the right price point is even more crucial as industry losses and debt levels rise. But if governments can use this unique time to combine a safe fiscal and regulatory framework supporting SAF production with the direct allocation of stimulus funds to SAF production, it is possible to reach the 2% tipping point in 2025. That would power greener flight, create jobs and fuel the economic recovery together,” said de Juniac.

With this, IATA and the wider aviation community are ready to work with the IEA, governments and fuel companies to cut aviation’s emissions with SAF. “SAF is our biggest emissions reduction opportunity. The time is right to push it forward so that, together, we can achieve major carbon reductions on the way towards fossil fuel-free flight,” added de Juniac.

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